FTSE 100 up on US earnings optimism

Engineers and financial stocks led the blue chip index up in early trading, as a solid start to the US earnings season boosted investors’ appetite for stocks. Miners also advanced as investors welcomed news that Alcoa, the US’s biggest aluminium producer, forecasted a positive outlook for 2013.

The FTSE 100 – trading around 0.4 per cent up this morning – was led by up engineer Meggitt, which soared 4.37 per cent.

Oil services firm John Wood Group rose more than three per cent, while Amec was up around 2.5 per cent in early deals. This morning Goldman Sachs lifted their ratings from “neutral” to “buy”.

Lloyds Banking Group, which was up more than three per cent, was upgraded by UBS from “neutral” to “buy”. Fellow banking share RBS rose 2.3 per cent, HSBC increased 1.02 per cent and Barclays added two per cent.

On the wider index, Egyptian miner Centamin added almost 10 per cent in early deals as it posted a record fourth quarter gold output from its Sukari mine, which was closed temporarily last month.

Fellow miners Aquarius Platinum, Ferrexpo and Talvivaara rose 6.5 per cent, 2.9 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively.

Supermarket Sainsbury’s led the blue chips down, sinking 2.15 per cent. This morning it posted a small rise in sales over its third quarter, and said customer numbers hit a high over the Christmas period.

Philip Dorgan at Panmure Gordon said this morning: "The third quarter showed a slower level of sales growth, although Sainsbury’s comparable was tougher than its competitors. Therefore, in common with its peers, Sainsbury's is failing to deliver a decent return on substantial investment."

Fellow retailers Marks & Spencer and WM Morrison also shed 1.22 per cent and 1.03 per cent in early deals.

In Asia, the Nikkei closed 0.67 per cent up and in the US the Dow Jones closed down 0.41 per cent.